Lockman’s Guide To The Quaking Aspen Leaf

Well, well, well, look at what we have here, somehow, some way, your arbitrary clicking has led you to your destination… perhaps, it was your fate to acquaint yourself with a luxurious Lee Lockman parable on the quaking aspen leaf… perhaps, it was your free will that guided you to accustom yourself with the trembling aspen leaf…

Who knows (God? Probably not), and who really cares (nobody? More than probably), you’re here for one thing and one thing only, to have a transcendent experience while reading about an aspen leaf, so let your holy uncle Lee guide you on this sermon. Oh, and FYI this is the quaking aspen tree bible I will be preaching from.

What is A Quaking Aspen Tree

Now, as any ‘sky pilot’ should, I’m here to set you up for success in this life and the many, many, many, more you may have… And, what better way to do that than to give you some divine truths about the quaking aspen tree itself (at least when you reincarnate as an aspen, you’ll know a little about yourself). 

The quaking aspen has supernatural distinctions in comparison to any other tree. This deciduous tree holds the title of the largest living organism, as well as being the most widely distributed tree in North America. It’s presence from sea to sky, growing in clones predominately through root sprouting. It amasses a longitudinal range through nine time zones, making it a peculiarly omnipresent organism. 

So, you probably noticed I used two different names for the tree, surprisingly I didn’t do this just to flex my ability to use a thesaurus. Populus tremuloides (its Latin); or more commonly known as the quaking aspen, has almost as many names as James McAvoy had in the movie “Split”. It can be identified as either the: trembling aspen, American aspen, golden aspen, mountain aspen, and in Español: álamo blanco, and álamo temblón (relax senoras I don’t speak Spanish, yet).

How did we arrive at all these cognomens for this one particular tree? Well it was as simple as using a thesaurus for the word nickname. See, when the breeze (or when the Gods exhalation) moves through the branches and shakes the leaves dangling on the aspen it evokes a trembling/quaking sound into your earholes. Yup, it’s that simple… (sigh).

The Quaking Aspen Leaf

Well, fate didn’t have you click this article for a cursory understanding of the quaking aspen, rather we’ve established you’re here to enhance your acuity about the leaf itself, and as the country rap-rock sensation Kid Rock would say through his autotuned voice, “Only God Knows Why”…

So, let’s start with the ABC’s. Aspen leaves are about as thin as my patience for my imbecilic co-workers, and as firm as my responses to their chowderheaded requests (for all you people who don’t understand tone, the leaves are thin and firm…). They are typically 1.5 to 3 inches in diameter.

What Shape is a Quaking Aspen Leaf?

The quaking aspen leaf has a round base and reaches a point at the apex, similar to my pear headed boss. Further, the leaf features sharp pointed teeth along the margins of the leaf, similar to the dolphin teeth that reside in my boss’s mouth (yes, it’s the same person, his gene pool evidently a series of unfortunate events).

Do Quaking Aspen Leafs Have Stems?

The leaves have a small stem known as the petiole which has a flattened spine that runs through the entire leaf. The flattened stem is the reason why the leaves quake and tremble in the wafting winds. Without it, there would be a void in nature; the shivering orchestra would no longer play its tune. 

Can Quaking Aspen Tree Leaves Act As a Windbreak?

Up on the higher elevations of the Gorge we have what a meteorologist would call ‘heavy winds’ (honestly, tell me what other job besides meteorologist you can be wrong most of the time and still collect a paycheck). To make you understand how windy it is atop the Gorge we’ve actually turned into a breeding ground for windmills. 

This wind is ostensibly a ‘no bueno’ for the farmers. I’m praying to Allah you would know why farmers and wind are like oil and water, but I’m not going to give you the benefit of the doubt… high winds cause crop loss, and make it difficult to harvest, and it dries the soil out like my crusty handed boss (yeah, add dry hands to the list to the poor guy, his hands honestly look like a cracked desiccated desert floor…). 

So, farmers being farmers found that quaking aspens make for aesthetically appealing windbreakers. They are able to block the wind and shield their houses from the penetration of the winds. But, that’s not all, no, they ironically reduce unwelcome sounds from highways and traffic. The problem here is that it’s hard to tell whether the leaves are blocking the sounds or if that trembling symphony of leaves is actually louder than traffic…

Now, before you go planting (click this if you want a Lee experience on the growing process, which you more than likely do…) a herd of soundproofing trees around your property for ‘acoustic value’, we should talk about everyone’s favourite topic these days… disease. Yes, this tree has a real hard-on for disease, they’re prone to injuries from deer and elk rubbing, aspen leaf blight, and pests.

What is Aspen Leaf Blight?

Aspen leaf blight is caused by the fungus Venturia, it’s a disease that affects the younger trees. The pathogen ceases growth and causes more deformities in the terminal shoots (no… I won’t compare my boss’s deformities to the trees, I actually have respect for the quaking aspen). The disease emerges in the spring with black spots on the leaves, eventually expanding and merging until the entire leaf is covered and wilts.

The best treatment is removing the infected leaves, twigs and branches in the fall in order to reduce the prominence of the disease in the spring. Fortunately, you can use a fungicide, unfortunately, this will only prevent new infections, and any leaves that are already infected will not be cured.

What Color Should Quaking Aspen Leafs Be?

One of the most distinguishing qualities of the smooth leaf is its color, which is a bright green to yellowish-green that dramatically transforms to yellow, gold, and orange in the autumn season. This is where uncle Lee has to take a moment and pause to let you put your mind’s eye to work and create a mental sketch. So, let’s sketch away.

Walk Through The Trees With Me

As I’ve implicitly alluded to, I’m a savant amongst savages, so Uncle Lee has to take the edge off somehow. And, what better way than to employ heading down to the local craft brewpub as a coping mechanism.

There was a 7-day stretch in the heart of September where I felt the pulse of autumn. It would beat on my walks home after I had administered some IPA-therapy into my bloodstream. I would cut through the park where I walked amid quaking aspens, in a state between heaven and hell. Their presence is gentle in their foreboding annual death.

The season had arrived. The leaves initiated their annual pigment metamorphosis from emerald green to lemon quartz and carnelian gemstone. The jewellike leaves shimmering in the cooling sun. Alfresco gusts jingling the yellow and orange crystals ornamenting the ashed-snow colored branches. Fall had finally wrapped me in its embrace. 

Now, let’s hope your mind’s eye was able to bring some of that to life, if it wasn’t at least you’ll be happy to know you are very much in the same company as my coworkers… Ok, ok, maybe I’m being too hard on you (not likely, but)… there are some other purposes for the aspen leaf beyond poetic prose or making an impregnable fortress to the wind.

 Quaking Aspen Leaf Tea

A common question in the PNW ( Pacific Northwest ) is whether or not we can steep a leaf of some plant or herb, and drink the remaining earth water it produces. The short answer, yes, according to Paul J. Van Horn and his “survival blog”. The leaves can be steeped in some boiling water to remedy pain-relief. Just ensure that leaves are not devoured with that fungal infection before you start drinking ladles full of the leaf water. 

Obviously, a man that self-appoints himself as being rugged (as I’m about to do), is often cringeworthy, gag inducing, and worth a couple eyerolls. However, if there was a Venn diagram where one side stated “making medicine from tree” and the opposing side stated “rugged” the intersecting middle would have “Lee Lockman” bolded and underlined. So, I hope we can agree that the pinnacle of being a man is being able to make medicine with your hands, or at least have some knowledge about it… 

Ok, ok, I’m done touting my superiority for a moment to inform you that the leaf in combination with bark contains salicin, which is an anti-inflammatory agent.

To make the tea boil down both the aspen’s leaf and it’s bark to create a concentrated liquid, this extraction process is known as decoction. This can relieve joint pain, fever, and create a dam for the brown waters that occur from diarrhea. Oh, and guess what, you can use your decoction as a topical remedy for acne and eczema as well.

The Quaking Aspen Leaf Inspired Power Generator

We’ve made it to that part of the article where I highlight scientists doing scientist things. At this point you’re obviously aware that aspen leaves quiver in low wind (if not then I’ll refund your time). The actual quaking of the leaves is what flickered the incandescent light on over the heads of a group of engineer researchers from the University of Warwick.

The research group posited that the underlying mechanisms (aka structure) of the leaf could generate electrical power in an efficient and effective manner. So, of course, they designed a device that was based on the structure of the leaf, which exploits the wind-generated movement. They did so by creating a cantilever beam similar to the flat stem of the leaf, and a curved blade tip that looks like my boss’s head… 

What makes this an attractive mechanism is it can provide a mechanical way of generating power in environments with extreme cold, heat, dust or sand. Oh, and where do we have extreme weather conditions? Yup, you guessed it, Mars.

The Mars rover named “Opportunity” used solar panels, but it eventually flat-lined due to the extra-terrestrial weather. However, the researchers suggest had the Mars rover been equipped with a cyborg quaking aspen leaf as a backup source for energy it could’ve potentially extended the exploration.


Hallelujah! You’ve been baptised in all the quaking aspen leaf tea you can handle. And, now that you’ve been blessed with my words, it’s time to fill the donation box. However, instead of money (although…), all I ask if you enjoyed the article is support us by subscribing to our newsletter! 

Till next time, hugs and kisses.

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